Turnout Thin for Lila Rose ‘March on Media’

Outside a nondescript office building in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, 150 or so people, many wearing dayglo green t-shirts, gathered on the sidewalk for a “march on media” convened by Lila Rose, founder of the anti-choice organization Live Action. The building where the protesters convened houses the Washington, D.C., bureau of ABC News.

In right-wing circles, Rose has made a name for herself creating undercover videos of herself and her associates posing as patients seeking abortions at women’s health clinics. Initially, when Rose began conducting her so-called stings, Live Action garnered a fair amount of media attention—especially on the rare occasions when she recorded a clinic employee acting in contradiction to clinic rules. But once the deceptive editing of Live Action videos was exposed by Media Matters for America, coverage of Live Action’s antics became more and more relegated to right-wing outlets—Fox News being first among them.

Against this backdrop, Rose is making a new bid for media attention by claiming that the three major television networks—ABC, NBC, and CBS—“censor” coverage of abortion to tilt in favor of pro-choice forces (what Rose calls “the abortion industry”). Leaders of the anti-choice movement are especially peeved that the networks treated the arrest and trial of the murderer Kermit Gosnell, owner of an illegal Philadelphia abortion clinic, as a local story.

And then there’s the media sensation created by Texas Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) by her 11-hour filibuster of a draconian anti-choice bill in the state legislature, defeating the measure at the close of the legislative session. (The measure later passed, only after Republican Gov. Rick Perry called a special session and the legislature took it up as a new bill.)

“ABC is probably the worst offender,” Rose told RH Reality Check after the rally, “in lionizing pro-abortion advocates like Wendy Davis [and] not covering basic stories like Gosnell’s trial. For 56 days [from the trial’s start], they didn’t cover Gosnell and yet they spent three times as much time covering Wendy Davis.”

I interjected that Davis’ filibuster in the Texas senate, coupled with the flooding of the capitol with thousands of pro-choice activists, was a remarkable occurrence in a state legislature.

“I think as a woman you should care about the remarkable things happening in Gosnell’s clinic and the women that are being butchered and the born-alive little girls and little boys that are being killed.”

(RH Reality check covered the Gosnell case, starting with the arrest of the rogue doctor and throughout the trial, here.)

I noted that ABC News did not pick up RH Reality Check’s investigation of the rogue clinic owner Dr. Steven C. Brigham (which would serve to cast doubt on the alleged media bias against reporting negative stories about abortion).

“Well, you should be joining us then in complaining,” she said.

But among the speakers at Rose’s rally was the anti-choice writer Jill Stanek, who sought to discredit the RH Reality Check investigation in a series of tweets aimed at RHRC Editor in Chief Jodi Jacobson.

Stanek’s problem with the RH Reality Check investigation? It showed that other abortion providers and pro-choice medical professionals had pleaded for years with authorities to do something to put a stop to Brigham’s dangerous practices.

Also on hand at the Live Action rally were some 30 members of Crossroads Walks, which member Teresa Moore described as a Catholic organization that sponsors cross-continental walks to call attention to the anti-abortion cause. A young woman, Moore wore a set of rosary beads around her neck, and sported one of the bright green shirts, emblazoned with the word “Pro-Life,” which identified members of her group. She and her colleagues had only recently arrived in Washington, D.C., at the conclusion of their walk from California.

In the United States, Crossroads has chapters at 19 colleges and universities, most of them Catholic. Moore was visibly excited when she told me that she and her fellow walkers were about to have lunch at the offices of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, though she said she wasn’t sure just whom from the bishops’ lobby would be hosting them.

Live Action has, in the past, enjoyed the support of the Gerard Health Foundation, which makes grants to “pro-life” groups, many of them Catholic.

As for her own future plans, Lila Rose told another reporter that Live Action plans to go international with their videos, and that the group would continue to protest outside the offices of the news networks.

“We have a multi-pronged approach, and I can say all the specific tactics and strategies, but certainly part of this is rallying outside of the buildings and saying, ‘hey, it’s time for you to report the story.’”

She said she was optimistic that ABC News would broadcast coverage of Thursday’s Live Action rally.

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  • cptbob

    Why do you suppose that Live Action CEO Lila Rose was sitting on the 2011 Form 990 self-reported Live Action cash reserves of $691,147 (the 2011 was the last Live Action tax filings posted by Guidestar.org) instead of using this money to provide financial assistance to young, low-income pregnant women?:

    Live Action – 2011 IRS Form 990 Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax

    • LoveTheLeast8

      691k isn’t that much of a reserve. Just the national Planned Parenthood branch alone had reserves of more than 150 times greater in their 990 report at $103,850,562!

      Maybe it is Planned Parenthood that we should be asking questions of especially in light of their recent medicaid fraud settlement in the multi-millions with the US government.

      • LisaC

        691k isn’t that much of a reserve. Just the national Planned Parenthood
        branch alone had reserves of more than 150 times greater in their 990
        report at $103,850,562!

        LTL8, you are embarrassing yourself. First off, as colleen said, PPFA provides actual services. Second, your numbers are several years old. Third, and most importantly, much of PPFA’s money is not “reserves,” but is instead held in endowed funds that by definition can’t be spent in a single year. Frequently donors establish endowed funds with the explicit stipulation that the principal cannot be spent down at all; rather, only investment proceeds may be spent. This arrangement is meant to ensure that the donor’s money supports his or her intended cause in perpetuity.

        Live Action, on the other hand, does not hold a penny in restricted assets. They have simply chosen to pocket nearly half the money that has been donated to them in the past three years. (All this information is available for free on Guidestar.)

        Possibly LiveAction just can’t come up with projects big enough to spend the money they’ve been given, which may be why they’re planning to “go international with their videos.” My theory is that Ms. Rose is accumulating money to endow a chair named after herself in some Bible-belt university. You can probably do that with about a million dollars.

        • LoveTheLeast8

          Maybe Live Action is starting a endowment? Less than 1 million in total reserves for a national organization seem pretty small. Also the PP branch in the national organization… it doesn’t provide services either. It is all the affiliates from across the country that do.

          NARAL doesn’t provide services and they had net assets of 3.8 million. I don’t see how 691k is that significant.

          • Jennifer Starr

            An endowment for what? More fake clinics? Planned Parenthood provides legitimate health services to women. From what I can Live Action does absolutely zilch, apart from feed the bloated ego of Liar Rose and others like her.

          • Arekushieru

            Again, your point is…? International Planned Parenthood, which my own country reduced its funding towards, isn’t the one that provides the services. But, here’s the thing, if it wasn’t available, none of the affiliates would be ABLE to provide the services. Really, stop TRYING to make yourself look ignorant.

            Also, like Jennifer said, Live Action does absolutely zilch. Naral, however, is an organization that aims to protect women from misinformation and reproductive slavery. Besides that, they weren’t trying to evade taxation, now were they? DERP.

          • LisaC

            Besides that, they weren’t trying to evade taxation, now were they?

            I’m not sure there’s any reason to think that LiveAction is evading taxation–they’re just not using their donor’s money efficiently or transparently. There are reasons to try to build up a nest egg if they one day aspire to do more than produce stunt videos and hand out photographs of their founder. But those reasons should be disclosed on the “give money here” page.

          • Arekushieru

            I think you misunderstood. When I say evading taxation, I meant exactly what you said. That’s why I didn’t use the more implicitly illegal term tax DODGER. And they certainly aren’t planning to aspire to more any time soon, now, I don’t think.

          • LisaC

            Also the PP branch in the national organization… it doesn’t provide services either. It is all the affiliates from across the country that do.

            PPFA does not provide direct medical treatment to patients. They do perform other services/functions, which you can find out about by Googling them or reading their annual report. I don’t personally give money to NARAL, but they also actually use the money given to them.

            Less than 1 million in total reserves for a national organization seem pretty small.

            “National organization?” They are a blog and a YouTube channel. Live Action’s 990 said that they had one full-time employee–Lila Rose–and one part-time employee, the “former CFO,” David Schmidt, who made 46 grand for working an average of fifteen hours a week. It’s a stretch to even use the pronoun “they” when describing the organization, let alone calling it “national.”

            Maybe Live Action is starting a endowment?

            Leaving aside the many, many practical reasons why a one-person organization is probably not starting an endowment, what moral justification would she have for doing it? Other anti-abortion charities don’t divert funds as an endowment, according to their 990s. If Live Action sincerely thinks its stunt videos can bring about an end to abortion in the near future, then why would it be squirreling away money to do stunt videos years down the road rather than, say, ending abortion now? Other than the sheer hilarity inherent in pocketing half its proceeds while asserting that an actual non-profit organization just wants to make money, I mean.

            I don’t see how 691k is that significant.

            The significance is that Live Action is soliciting money by exhorting its readers to “expose the truth about abortion,” and then not using it. A legitimate charity that is trying to build an endowment solicits funds specifically for that purpose, so that donors can choose how to dedicate their money. I’m not sure if that’s the law, or just ethics. It makes me no nevermind–arguably someone who is dumb enough to donate to Live Action can’t expect their money to be used well anyway. But potential donors who have a goal higher than getting Lila Rose on Bill O’Reilly should direct their generosity elsewhere.

          • LoveTheLeast8

            “that they had one full-time employee”

            Then who is all the different people in their videos? They have a Live Action News site and I see the names of dozens of writers. I think they have more than one full time & one part time worker. Maybe that was in the past, I don’t know but they seem to have grown a lot since then. And their Facebook page has over half a million fans. That’s more than Planned Parenthood. I think that’s pretty impressive for an organization with such little finances.

          • LisaC

            I think they have more than one full time & one part
            time worker. Maybe that was in the past, I don’t know

            You don’t know whether they filed perjurious tax returns? That’s not a ringing vote of confidence.

            calls the people in its videos “actors.” Obviously the organization
            does not have actors employed full time. I have no way of knowing
            whether any writers are compensated monetarily. IIRC Gauleiter
            Freiburger has referred to policing the comment threads as his “job,”
            but no doubt he finds the work its own reward. All I know is that your
            “national organization” has demonstrably only had 1.5 employees in years
            past, it has a continual call for “volunteers” up on the website, and
            they advertise positions for temporary interns but not jobs. It’s pretty
            clear that they’re not dipping into their “reserves” to pay people.

          • fiona64

            And maybe wild monkeys will fly out of my backside …

          • Arekushieru

            Oh, btw, read my post in response to LisaC’s for the answer to your comment that’s in moderation. Kthx.

      • Arekushieru

        And, in turn, perhaps while you’re at it, you can tell me what a single DOCTOR makes assisting at a live birth? Hmm? Betcha that would be in the BILLIONS. Whoops. Just trying to show how you actually have NO point.

        • HeilMary1

          Why would greedy doctors pass up $5,000 to $50,000 childbirths for $500 abortions instead? Could patient needs and gratitude have anything to do specialty choices??

    • HeilMary1

      Maybe grifter Liar Rose is the secret daughter of grifter Christine O’Donnell? Rose may need the money to live on, because who would hire her?

      • http://littlemisshaldol.tumblr.com/ LittleMissMellaril

        Love that name, Liar Rose!

  • Chris Ranmore

    On the contrary, the media is reluctant to present abortion as a frequent choice for women, particularly in drama and movies. All too frequently an unwanted pregnancy is resolved by a convenient miscarriage or the women happily reconciles to giving birth. For a women to choose abortion and move on with relief rather than regret is never represented – despite the fact that it is the reality of many unwanted pregnancies.

    • Valde

      Yeah, I was really annoyed when one of the characters on Desperate Housewives was unexpectedly pregnant with twins. She was in her 40s, already had 3 kids, and a very very busy life. Twins would be disastrous. So she agonized over it. And I kept thinking ‘JUST GET AN ABORTION’. But no, the producers had her ‘reconcile’ with it, and come to LOVE the idea of having more babies.

      Absolute bullshit.

      • liberaldem

        One of the few instances in which I can remember a prime time series dealing with abortion was an episode of the series Private Practice in which one of the M.D.s in the practice was extremely uncomfortable with abortion, but she and the other M.D.s discussed that the practice supported women who would make the choice to have an abortion.
        Desperate Housewives took the safer way out.

  • L-dan

    And the Gosnell case *is* a local story. Maybe because ABC realizes there’s not some movement of people aiming to provide illegal abortions in horrible conditions throughout the country.

    Though honestly? I would be very surprised if there are not illegal providers of various sorts in places like South Dakota and Mississippi with their single clinic each. When we’re seeing articles about the rise in medication for abortion being sold in flea markets, it’s hard to believe that’s the only response to the continuing disappearance of clinics nationwide. *That* would be a nationwide story, rather than a local one, and it’s not one Lila Rose and her crew would like.

    • Laurie Bertram Roberts

      I’m in Mississippi I don’t know about illegal providers but I know women perform herbal abortions on themselves and order what they hope is RU 486 and Cytotec online all the time.
      Also although they deny it there are private doctors who provide them.

  • LoveTheLeast8

    Wow you are hateful to other women.

    • Jennifer Starr

      What does Live Action do, exactly? Provide a venue for bad writers like Cassy Fiano and a place for Lila and her friends to play dress-up and try to ‘act’ occasionally? Perhaps it’s like the fake clinics, aka Crisis Pregnancy Centers–providing employment for right-wing women who would be unemployable everywhere else.

    • fiona64

      … says the person who supports misogynistic, patronizing individuals who find women too stupid to make their own medical decisions.

      I’m sorry, LTL8, but I’m suffering from irony poisoning.

      • HeilMary1

        LOL! — irony “vitamin” pills sound like the anatabloc supplements pushed by Gov. Bob McDonnell’s favorite funder.

    • goatini

      That’s right, call out someone laying the TRUTH down about a person who IS hateful to other women.

      Projection: it’s what forced-birthers do best.

      • Valde

        They love saying we are hateful so’s they can cast themselves as victims of persecution.

  • Jennifer Starr

    I watched a five-minute video of Lila’s little rally yesterday, and boy is that girl full of herself–couldn’t stop playing with her hair and fidgeted, sighed and all but rolled her eyes whenever someone else was speaking and the spotlight wasn’t just on her.

    • Valde

      Aren’t they always though?

      The arrogance of these people never ceases to amaze. But I guess that when you think ‘god’ and ‘morality’ on your side, you become a legend in your own mind.

      • fiona64

        Where, of course, “god” and “morality” just happen to be identical with your personal beliefs …

        • Valde

          I got the distinct impression that many of the posters over at LAN got an emotional ‘high’ out of treating us with barely concealed contempt.

          The thing with abortion is, it’s easy to feel morally superior without lifting a finger.

          • fiona64

            Oh, yes. It’s always about being smugly superior with people like that.

            I’m embarrassed that I was ever one of them.

          • HeilMary1

            Ditto! I cringe when I recall my unfounded smugness. Religious melodrama gets old and annoying pretty fast.

    • http://littlemisshaldol.tumblr.com/ LittleMissMellaril

      Yup, she vapid and selfish! Just like her ilk!

    • HeilMary1

      She wants to replace Lindsay Lohan.

      • Jennifer Starr

        I’m not a Lindsay Lohan fan–always thought she was overrated but I have to say that even she probably has more talent than Lila.

  • LisaC

    was the anti-choice writer Jill Stanek, who sought to discredit the RH Reality Check investigation in a series of tweets aimed at RHRC Editor in Chief Jodi Jacobson.

    Come on, guys. You’ve been on this story for a month and haven’t posted a single upskirt photo of a patient being carried out to an ambulance. How is Jill supposed to take your “investigation” seriously?

  • HeilMary1

    Read somewhere that her original career goal was to be a Hollywood star, but she couldn’t get any gigs. I suspect she stays single because her biggest crushes are married millionaires or pretend celibate priests. And pregnancy’s common disfigurements and expenses terrify her.

    • Jennifer Starr

      I’ve read that apparently she still has aspirations to be an actruess. Having watched her ‘acting’ on the Live Action videos, I can state with complete confidence that all they’ll ever be are aspirations. Lila Rose has no talent to speak of and I suspect she knows it.

  • HeilMary1

    According to wikipedia, she’s 25. Of course, that is already too old for most GOP playboys and priests!